Southeast Asia welcomed a record 96.6 million international visitors in 2014 and was identified as the fastest growing region for tourism in the world. The current and forecast exponential growth in tourism arrivals and receipts represents a veritable boom for all eleven countries within the region. However, the negative impacts of this growth should not be overlooked. The sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism (SECTT) represents a most insidious, troubling and enduring phenomenon that has plagued the region for several decades. Twenty-five years after the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and almost twenty years after the inaugural World Congress against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, this crime against children persists in spite of concerted global efforts. Whilst many advances have been made in the fight against SECTT, the clandestine and ever changing nature of this phenomenon has consistently outpaced every attempt to respond. This regional study aims to synthesize the most recent data and research pertaining to SECTT in Southeast Asia with a view to informing future actions by governments and other stakeholders, and more broadly, seeks to contribute to the Global Study on the Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism.
SECTT is a product of the complex interplay between a range of historical, cultural, social, and economic factors occurring on a global, regional, national and local level. The changing nature of travel and tourism combined with enduring poverty and inequality throughout the region influence both supply and demand with regard to SECTT. Social norms present across the region serve to foster an environment of opportunity and permissibility with regard to the sexual exploitation of children. Further exacerbating the problem has been the dramatic development in Internet and communications technologies that has expanded and diversified opportunities to sexually exploit, or to profit from the sexual exploitation of, vulnerable children.
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